Volunteer for Wildlife
Most volunteer with wildlife programs focus on the safeguarding and protection of animals that are under severe threat due to the illegal wildlife trade, poaching, pollution or habitat destruction. Volunteers are needed to work with animals at wildlife sanctuaries or rehabilitation centers around the world, while at the same time conduct important research through data collection and surveying or even helping to educate indigenous communities about animal rights.
When you volunteer with animals abroad, you get the chance to interact with wildlife in their natural habitats - allowing you to experience, first hand, the importance of conserving these regions while simultaneously helping to prevent the current decline in certain animal populations.
The African continent is home to a large amount of indigenous - and unfortunately endangered species. These include the majestic African elephant and rhino’s as well as the regal African lion - to name only three. Due to the increased international demand for ivory and the illegal hunting and trade of wild animals, numbers of these magnificent animals continue to drop. Animal sanctuaries throughout the country are playing a vital role in the protection of these endangered animals.
The iconic Amazon Rainforest is home to almost 12 percent of the planet’s species. Located in the heart of South America, this magical location and all its inhabitants are currently under threat due to increased deforestation. Rescue centers scattered throughout the country provide sanctuary to a variety of the animals who have lost their homes and volunteers are always needed to help provide care for them while also educating the local communiti
Parts of the Southeast Asian landscape is also suffering at the hands of humans looking for land and financial gain. The logging and palm oil industries, among others, are responsible for the destruction of countless homes of the indigenous animals of the region. Rehabilitation centers are becoming more and more important in the rescue and rehabilitation of the animals from the region and volunteers are often the glue that holds them together - helping with everything from preparing food and providing love and attention for animals such as Orangutans. read more close
I enjoyed ranger days the most. On these days you were paired with a ranger and got to do everything they did. This included feeding, cleaning, and in some cases even treating the animals. There were so many animals at the park that it was so much to see every day. My favorite part was getting to know each animal and their story. Every animal at the park has a name and is looked after carefully. It was great because you weren’t just standing behind a fence looking at the animal you were in the enclosure handling and helping.
The first three days of the program took place in Sydney, as our coordinator showed the volunteers around Sydney and filled us in on the history and customs in Australia. Along our tour we visited the Sydney Opera House, Botanical Gardens, a couple different museums and took a ferry ride to Darling Harbour.
I saw rhinos and cave paintings and had the chance to visit a village, where I met an 82-year-old chief that told me the tale of fighting a leopard that was eating his livestock. His stories were incredible and followed shortly by a dance performance by the children of the village. I could not write about this day with enough detail to do it justice, but believe me when I say it was one of the most memorable days of my life!
Our day started at 7am with making our own breakfast. We would meet with all the staff at 8 for the day’s work which would continue until 4 or 5. We were assigned different jobs with different staff and animals every day. We had baby monkeys which were so cute, but bratty; we took turns bottle feeding and playing with them as well as a little dyker and springbok.
The work at the panda base wasn’t very hard, but it was extremely rewarding. I feel so grateful to have had this once in a lifetime experience, getting up close and personal with the pandas, learning their different personalities, and helping with their conservation. We were also part of an amazing group of volunteers, united by a love of pandas. We all got on really well and generally just had a great time together, both on and off the panda base. I will miss those crazies all most as much as I will miss my adorable new panda friends!
After becoming acquainted with our panda keeper and pandas, we started our first job. It was necessary to clean the cage, removing the bamboo leaves and other garbage. After that, we started to clean their enclosures... In addition, we fed the pandas twice a day with carrot and special bread (named ”panda cake”), and sometimes apples.
When the time came to say goodbye, I realized that 2 weeks were definitely not enough to explore everything that this place has to offer. I loved every minute of it – the warmness of the sun, the peacefulness of the desert and of the animals, the kindness of the people I have met, the wonderful mix of sights, tastes and sounds and all kinds of experiences that were sometimes challenging and sometimes comforting. I would like to thank Go Eco, my fellow volunteers and everyone at the reserve for making this a one in a lifetime experience for me.
Working at the wildlife center has the perfect balance of being active and relaxing, and even many of the volunteer tasks have a very noticeable rhythm and method. It was so easy for me to adapt for this reason, and my volunteer hours gave me so much time to reflect on my experiences while simultaneously helping a small ecosystem.
Our time at turtle camp was capped off by releasing two of ‘our’ turtles into the sea to begin their journey as independent turtles! Hopefully, the love and care provided at the turtle project will ensure these turtles have a greater chance of survival in the big, wide, scary ocean. Go well, little turtle!
The greatest aspects of the project are two. First of all, you really feel useful as local coordinators need our help to take care of all turtles as they are not enough to do the job alone. Second, compared to Ubud, there are less volunteers (around 25, even if they told us that during the high season it can go up to 70). As you are not a lot, no small groups are done; we are all part of a big group, or even better a big family. You really get close to volunteers and to coordinators and cookers.
Typical days at the African Wildlife Ranch aren’t typical at all. Each day provided for a new opportunity to help improve the lives of the animals at the ranch. Whether it was assisting with cleaning enclosures each morning, preparing food for various animals, providing enrichment to one of the many wonderful animals, building and preparing enrichment opportunities or assisting with project work, there was always something new to keep you focused on.
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